Dylan was our number one the following year, too, with his 17th album, ‘Desire’. That may have been a slightly more contentious choice. Also released that year: The Runaways’ self-titled debut, and the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’. Plus an awful lot of wafty prog-rock concept albums.
Our album of 1977 was David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. Really? In the year of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’, not to mention The Sex Pistols’ ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’? Then again, NME was a bit sniffy about punk back then: it was left to rival paper Sounds to properly get behind punk.
In 1979, post-punk was taking over. No surprise, then, that NME went nuts for Talking Heads, making their third album ‘Fear Of Music’ the record of the year. NME’s rival music paper Melody Maker also had it as their top release that year. Also released in 1979: Gang Of Four’s ‘Entertainment’, Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’, and Neil Young And Crazy Horse’s ‘Rust Never Sleeps’.
In 1980 we went for Joy Division’s ‘Closer’ – the first time what might now be described as an indie band had made it to the top slot. Hard to argue with that choice, really, though 1980 also saw the release of what would eventually be the biggest hard rock album of all time, AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’.
Back to rock music in 1983, with Elvis Costello’s eighth album ‘Punch The Clock’ getting the album of the year honour. Fair play, it did have the astounding ‘Shipbuilding’ on it, though you’d have thought the mag would have acknowledged the rise of synth-pop. Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ came out that year. (As did R.E.M.’s ‘Murmur’).
And so to 1984, when we went with Bobby Womack’s ‘The Poet II’. A strange choice: it’s not even the best Bobby Womack album called ‘The Poet’ (the first was better). Better choices in hindsight: R.E.M.’s ‘Reckoning’, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’, or even Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ debut ‘From Her To Eternity’.
1991 was the year of block-busting rock albums such as Guns’N’Roses’ ‘Use Your Illusion’ double release, and Metallica’s ‘Black Album’ – though these days it’s remembered more as the year grunge broke big. That year saw the release of Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’, Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Gish’, and of course Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’, which was our album of the year.
A worthy winner in 1993: Bjork’s ‘Debut’. Though of course Suede’s debut also came out that year, and when we recently selected our best debut albums of each of the last fifty years, it was Suede that got the nod.
No prizes for guessing which album we went with in 1994. Clearly relieved that we had some successful British bands to write about again, we made Oasis’ ‘Definitely Maybe’ our album of the year. Doubtless there were office arguments over whether this or ‘Parklife’ (or indeed Pulp’s ‘His’n’Hers’) would come out on top.
1995 was a pretty huge year for NME bands, what with the Blur Vs Oasis chart battle, and Oasis releasing the biggest album of the decade in the form of ‘(What’s The Story?) Morning Glory’. But it was also the year of trip-hop – and Tricky’s claustrophobic debut ‘Maxinquaye’ was our album of the year. Perhaps an unexpectedly downbeat choice in a year now remembered as being all about Britpop glory.
1996: Beck’s freewheeling fifth album ‘Odelay’. It’s undeniably a great record, but do people still listen to it much these days? Also released that year: The Fugees’ ‘The Score’, The Afghan Whigs’ ‘Black Love’, and Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Everything Must Go’.
People think 1997 and immediately assume Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ conquered all, but actually Radiohead have never had an NME album of the year. In 1997 we went with Spiritualized’s ‘Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’. The Verve’s ‘Urban Hymns’ was also a strong candidate.
And so to 1998, and the post-Britpop hangover. Air’s ‘Moon Safari’ came out, as did Massive Attack’s ‘Mezzanine’ and Rufus Wainwright’s self-titled debut album – but we went with Mercury Rev’s ‘Deserter’s Songs’. Interestingly, Snow Patrol released their debut album ‘Songs For Polarbears’ that year. It peaked at Number 143.
There can’t have been many arguments about making Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not’ our album of the year in 2006, though Thom Yorke’s ‘The Eraser’, My Chemical Romance’s ‘The Black Parade’ and The Hold Steady’s ‘Boys And Girls In America’ were also critically acclaimed that year.
2007 was all about Klaxons’ ‘Myths Of The Near Future’. Our original review said: “From the scattered shards of the past and of the future, Klaxons have built a magical and dangerous world all of their own.”
MGMT’s second album might have divided opinion, but their debut certainly didn’t. We all bloody loved ‘Oracular Spectacular’ in 2008 – it beat second-placed album TV On The Radio’s ‘Dear Science’ by a comfortable margin, with Glasvegas’ self-titled debut coming in third.